Latest ‘Bourne’ flick lacks charm of prequels
Published: Monday, August 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
To say that The Bourne Legacy was a disappointment would be an understatement. As a major fan of the original Bourne trilogy, I was wary of a Bourne movie without Matt Damon or even the title character, but I wanted to believe it would all work out.
The film started with an icy pool of water into which Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker, The Avengers) dove to fetch a certain tube containing a map. From there, we followed him as he inexplicably took green and blue pills and marked his progress on the map while he leapt around on snow-capped mountains in the Alaskan wilderness. Confused yet? I sure was.
However, I wanted to be patient because action movies don’t really get going until guns are pulled and fists start flying. Also, I told myself that the plodding plot might just be a result of the fact that there was no dialogue for the first bit of the movie. But even when dialogue kicked in, it didn’t get any better and was often weighted down with scientific and spy jargon.
Interspersed with the shots of Cross traversing mountains were scenes of official-looking people having official meetings about Treadstone—the CIA’s top-secret assassin behavioral-modification program of which Jason Bourne was the last survivor. They had some trouble with people sticking their noses where they didn’t belong, so naturally, the Treadstone officials decided to shut down whatever agents they could.
Cut to some shots of people taking yellow pills and bleeding to death out of their nostrils in various countries.
Through some circuitous backstory, we learn that the Treadstone agents were dosed with pills while out on assignment so they could enhance their minds and bodies, explaining Cross’ seemingly endless on-screen pill-popping.
Once Cross makes his way out of the Alaskan wilderness, his motivation for the rest of the movie is to find more pills because he’s run out of them. I spent a good amount of time wondering why he couldn’t simply stop taking the pills, which was never exactly explained.
Regardless, he finds his way to Dr. Marta Shearing’s (Rachel Weisz) house. She was the doctor in charge of giving the Treadstone agents regular checkups, so Cross assumes she has access to his crack pills. She doesn’t, but she does know where he can get them: naturally, the Philippines.
After doctoring up some passports, Cross and Shearing are off to Manila to “viral off,” a phrase they use a lot but never explain in layman’s terms to the audience. There are some fight scenes in the pill factory in Manila and foot chases through the street as the government agents track down Cross and Shearing—but these scenes are nothing remarkable when compared with the previous Bourne films.
And I won’t give the ending away (not that it would really make a difference), but it might have been the most abrupt, awkward ending I have ever seen in a movie.
If none of this seems logical, it’s because none of it is. Director and writer Tony Gilroy, who also wrote the first three films, seems to have lost his mojo. The plot, if you can call it that, is extraordinarily scattered and more often than not, I simply had no idea what was going on or why something was happening.
There was one lengthy chase scene—yes, only one—that was so choppy and blurred that I felt like I was on a tilt-a-whirl at a carnival. Although, to be honest, that would have been more amusing.
For what Renner had to work with material-wise, he did a decent job, but Damon’s absence was definitely felt.
Rebooting a series is a tricky business, especially when the original trilogy is well regarded by fans and most critics. You would think a new director would have wanted to start off with a solid base of a feasible plot. But apparently with all the remote locations, color-coordinating of sugar pills and hype, Gilroy didn’t have time for such trivial matters.